Scholastic Takes a Trip to Tickety Town

Scholastic has acquired the publishing rights to Tickety Toc, an animated preschool TV show from Zodiak Rights that airs on Nick Jr. in the U.S. “We first saw it at Toy Fair in 2012,” said Gayley Avery, director of licensed publishing at Scholastic. “It was one of the things, out of the many that we saw there, that really stood out to us. The art is vibrant, it’s funny, and it’s about problem-solving. It’s really imaginative and there’s lots of fun in every episode.”

She noted that Scholastic’s licensing portfolio for preschoolers, which includes Peppa Pig and Lalaloopsy, was skewed toward girls. “This is a nice boy/girl split,” she explained. The main characters are a set of twins, brother and sister.

The first group of four books, debuting in January 2014, will include an 8x8, a sticker storybook, a board book for the young end of the demographic range (age 2) and a picture clue reader for the older end (4–5). The books will launch simultaneously in all channels, including Scholastic’s clubs and fairs.

Tickety Toc is represented for licensing by Established Brands in the U.S. and Studio Licensing in Canada. Among the other licensees on board to date are Anchor Bay for home entertainment and Just Play for toys; Scholastic is in talks with both about potential cross-promotions. Cupcake Digital is the licensee for enhanced e-books.

VIZ Enters Ben 10’s Omniverse

VIZ Kids has acquired the print and digital graphic novel rights to Ben 10: Omniverse, the most recent incarnation of Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 franchise.

“Ben 10 as a franchise is huge,” said Beth Kawasaki, senior editorial director at VIZ Kids. The original series debuted in 2005, followed by Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, in which Ben aged a few years, and now Ben 10: Omniverse, which travels back and forth between his 16-year-old self’s time period and earlier versions. “There are good characters, great stories, and lots of transformations,” Kawasaki said. “We can go back and forth, as they do on the show. There will be some surprise appearances from Ben’s past. The stories appeal to new fans, but there’s something extra for readers who already are fans.”

In addition to the storytelling possibilities, the series is well known among its target audience, boys 8–11. “Cartoon Network promotes it constantly,” Kawasaki explained. “The show is on TV all the time. The toys are everywhere.” There is a strong following on the Internet for both games and video clips, and on Facebook as well.

Noted writers and illustrators, including B. Clay Moore, Cory Levine, Joel Enos, Alan Brown, and Albert Carreres will work on the first three volumes, which will be released in October 2013 (timed to the start of Ben 10: Omniverse’s second season), January 2014, and April 2014. “These are top-notch people,” said Kawasaki. “They really got the universe immediately, and they have a following from other series.

And Ben 10 has its own following, Kawasaki said, calling it “one of those instantly recognizable properties. When we announced Ben 10 to our sales team, we got a little round of applause. It’s great when you have that shorthand.”

Angry Little Girls Show Attitude

While attending college in Berkeley in 1994, Lela Lee created a comic strip called Angry Little Asian Girl, featuring a character who was an alter ego of sorts. Eventually Lee created an ethnically diverse group of additional characters, renamed the property Angry Little Girls, and began to sell merchandise, first from the trunk of her car and then through dozens of licensees. In the late 2000s, she put her merchandising efforts on hold as she focused on developing a television series. It will debut on Mnet, a cable TV channel focusing on Korean music (K-Pop) and culture, this summer.

“The stories are a cross between South Park and The Simpsons, but for girls. There’s a lot of attitude,” said Lisa Streff, executive v-p of consumer products at SMC Entertainment, the property’s newly appointed global licensing agent. “But the art style is more like a Hello Kitty or Peanuts. With the TV series coming on, we thought it was a great time to reintroduce the brand.” Licensed products will feature the classic art style; TV-based graphics are expected to follow later.

Publishing has been a key component of the program. Abrams and Running Press have been on board since 2005, Abrams for four comic strip compilations and Running Press for mini-books and kits, the most recent published this spring. The brand also has an avid social media presence.

The first five licensees signed by SMC, for t-shirts and other apparel, plush, calendars, designer bags, and novelty products, will be announced at the June Licensing Expo, and other items for women 13–30, from loungewear and jewelry to room decor and cosmetics, are planned.

Superheroes Support Education

Following an afterschool pilot in San Diego last fall, ABDO Publishing has officially launched its Reading Is a Superpower (RISP) literacy program, making available to classroom teachers and libraries educational materials such as writing exercises, vocabulary lists, discussion questions, and more, centered around the licensed Marvel and Star Wars graphic novels that ABDO distributes into the school market.

Feedback from the pilot program led ABDO to bulk up some elements in the offering, including adding more movement and fitness, writing, arts and crafts, STEM, and shared reading, according to Dan Verdick, ABDO’s v-p marketing and communications.

Educational materials focused on licensed characters are especially relevant to after-school programs, where “disguised learning” is key, according to Verdick, who notes that the RISP program also appeals to ELL students, children along the autism spectrum, and boys who may not take to reading, and can be used both in classroom and library settings. The afterschool program confirmed that kids and teens like to create superheroes, their environments, and villains, he said. “They don’t see it as a writing assignment. It was encouraging to see what incredible creativity and engagement they had. The kids really got into it.”

Separately, ABDO has added two more licenses to its assortment of library-bound graphic novels. In fall 2013, it will begin distributing eight Jurassic Park titles based on the 1990s films and four titles tied to the 2009 and 2013 Star Trek movies. IDW is the original publisher for both.

In Brief

DC Comics and Warner Bros. Consumer Products granted rights to Peavey for a line of guitars, percussion instruments, and accessories featuring DC characters including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and The Green Lantern.... The Wildflower Group announced new licensees for Goodnight Moon, including Mighty Fine for infant and toddler apparel, Precious Moments for gifts, and Cloud9 for fabrics.... The Joester Loria Group signed Dophes for Eric Carle bedding, room decor, and towels for the Canadian market.... Cupcake Digital has signed on as the licensee for enhanced storybook apps tied to Strawberry Shortcake, licensed by American Greetings Properties, and Fraggle Rock, licensed by Henson Productions.... Soulland, a Danish design label, brings its Babar line of high-end menswear to the U.S. market. After debuting in Colette stores in Paris, the line will be sold in Opening Ceremony stores in the U.S. and at select retailers around the world. Babar is licensed by Nelvana Enterprises and The Clifford Ross Company.... Penguin, the global publishing licensee for Moshi Monsters, and Mind Candy, Moshi Monsters’ licensor, have partnered to make Penguin the exclusive global publisher for any new cross-platform properties developed by Mind Candy over the next three years.... Penguin U.K. will publish books for another digital-origin property, Plants vs. Zombies, from PopCap Games.... Sanrio signed Mindshapes for Mr. Men and Little Miss original story and activity apps, both standalone and within its virtual world, Magic Town.... Atlantyca retained Euro Lizenzen as the licensing agent for Geronimo Stilton in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.... Walker Licensing, a division of Walker Books U.K., has signed five new licensees for its property Tilly and Friends, including for leisurewear, nightwear, greeting cards, gift wrap, and gaming apps. A TV series airs on Cbeebies.... DRi Licensing granted rights to Roald Dahl properties including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014, to Gibsons for a line of adult and children’s jigsaw puzzles for U.K. consumers.... Zodiak Kids licensed Mister Maker, a British preschool series on CBeebies, to Igloo Books for sticker, activity, and coloring books, and P2 Entertainment for mobile and tablet apps in the U.K. and Ireland.... Zeptolab and ITV Studios licensed Pedigree for annuals and Titan for magazines tied to the mobile game Cut the Rope, both for the U.K. market... Bulldog Licensing signed Igloo Books for an “autobiography” of the advertising character Monkey.... Pedigree Books will publish Annoying Orange activity and Christmas annuals in the U.K. market.